Blogging for Dummies

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The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging
By the Editors of the Huffington Post
Introduction by Arianna Huffington
Simon & Schuster Paperbacks; 230 pages

The Gist:

A decade ago, no one had ever heard of a blog. Now, there are 112 million of them, with 50,000 new ones going up every day. Columnist Arianna Huffington, creator of the blog-filled news site The Huffington Post, has done as much to popularize these web diaries as anyone around. She and her editors are betting that some of those millions of enthusiasts would like what is best described as a Blogopedia. In it, the HuffPost's editors and a slew of public figures who post on the site (from Nora Ephron to Harry Shearer to Gary Hart) answer every possible question about setting up a blog, finding a readership, and getting buzz.

Highlight Reel:

On the passion that bloggers bring to their pursuit: "When bloggers decide that something matters, they chomp down hard and refuse to let go. They're the true pit bulls of reporting. The only way to get them off a story is to cut off their heads, and even then you'll need to pry their jaws open."

On picking subjects to write about: "It's perfectly fine to write about your life and experiences. That's the top reason bloggers give for starting a blog — and there's no need to apologize for it ... Feel free to make your post about how your toddler looks just like Suri Cruise as long as you'd like."

On making money: "When people think of a blogging business model, the first thing that comes to mind is that they'll run ads on their site. But in fact, the economics of this route are rather dicey — so don't quit your day job expecting that cash will fly into your pockets the second you sign up ... It takes hundreds of thousands of readers to earn anything approaching a living online."

The Lowdown:

Alas, even though they both cover current events, there is a modicum of friction between reporters and bloggers. That no doubt explains the book's occasionally snarky tone towards the mainstream media ("Blogs are turning this notion of an elite, degreed priesthood of journalists on its head"), a tone that blogs do particularly well. But this book is so useful that this card-carrying member of the "dinosaur media" is not going to take the bait. The HuffPosters capture all of the excitement of the blogosphere, enabling the would-be blogger to take a confident step online. It does a fine job of explaining blog vocabulary (CAPTCHA; commenter; troll; vlog), as well as various means of measuring traffic (hits, page views, unique visitors). Surprisingly, the book is congratulatory towards Arianna Huffington without taking a completely hagiographic tone. A must read for blog newbies, of which there are increasingly few. Ironically, the tech savvy reader could probably find much of this information somewhere online.

The Verdict: Read